Rocks Review: Rocks 0 Hampton & Richmond 5

The Rocks crashed to a shattering defeat - their heaviest of the season - as hopes their poor run was behind them were dashed at a flat Nyewood Lane.

A superbly-taken first-half hat-trick by Ryan Moss effectively had the game sewn up within 39 minutes and the Rocks, who’d played well enough for most of that first period, never looked like staging any sort of comeback.

That’s one win in ten league games now for Jamie Howell’s team, who remain 12th in the table having missed a chance to move back into the top ten with a win here.

The Rocks again had new pair Josh Warren and Simon Woods in the starting line-up, with striker Woods – on dual registration with Portchester - surprisingly available after indications at the weekend he would not be.

With Harvey Whyte ill, James Crane was given a more forward wide role as Jon Marzetti came back in at right-back.

Hampton, whose visit to the Lane had been postponed three times before tonight, included a couple of ex-Havant players in their 16 – Tony Taggart was a starter and Mo Harkin was on the bench.

The Rocks were looking to build on Saturday’s 1-0 win over Wingate & Finchley, which was their first league win in eight.

A look at the league table before kick-off showed the Rocks 12th and Hampton 14th – and for both clubs those were lower positions than they had enjoyed earlier in the season.

The first effort at goal came from Hampton right-back Joe Turner, whose fierecly-hit left-footed effort from 25 yards flew wide of Craig Stoner’s left-hand post at the clubhouse end.

It wasn’t long before the Rocks had their first opportunity and Darryl Wollers almost finished a move he started himself. Wollers, back at left-back after a spell as a central defender, surged forward and sprayed the ball out to Lewis Stockford.

His cross was perfect for Wollers, who headed over when well-placed.

Wollers was at the centre of the action again a minute later when he got away down the left but his low ball into the six-yard box was cleared by a defender.

In a very open start to the game, James Crane robbed the full-back in the box but chose the wrong pass from the byline and the chance was gone.

Terry Dodd, scorer of the Rocks’ winning goal in their last game, was brought down just outside the D in the ninth minute. Sam Pearce took the free-kick and his low shot beat the wall but it was wide.

The Rocks were enjoying most of the possession in a fast-paced opening 20 minutes but weren’t troubling visiting keeper Rodney Chiweshe. Marzetti had a chance to pile on the pressure with a right-sided cross but it went behind for a goal kick.

At the other end James Simmonds played in Moss but his cross was beyond his team-mates.

A through-ball to Dodd seemed to be presenting no danger but keeper Chiweshe almost ran past the ball in gathering it and Dodd was close to seizing on it.

Stockford fizzed a low shot across goal and wide as the Rocks kept up a high tempo.

Midway through the first half Sam Pearce got his head on a Kane Wills corner at the near post but it was cleared off the line.

Within a minute, Hampton had broken and taken the lead with a simple goal, Mo Bettamer drawing defenders before sliding the ball across for Moss to slot past Stoner.

A few minute later, Stoner was quick to sprint out of his box to clear the danger as Moss bore down sensing a second goal.

A lovely move on 33 minutes almost brought the Rocks level. Wollers found Marzetti on the right and when he played it into Dodd’s feet, the striker turned and almost lifted a shot over Chiweshe, but the keeper held it.

Immediately Crane was put in on goal at a tight angle but forced Chiweshe into a sharp reaction save and Woods couldn’t quite get to the loose ball.

The Rocks were still having most of the attacking play and yet they found themselves 2-0 down on 37 minutes and it was Moss again who did the damage, sending a searing left-foot drive past Stoner’s dive after the Rocks had made heavy weather of clearing a Beavers counter-attack.

It wasn’t a bad return for a player who’d been struggling to get into the Hampton side.

Hampton smelled blood and they – and Moss – made it 3-0 two minutes later with another superbly-hit shot past Stoner, this time with his right foot, after being played in on the right side of the box.

The Rocks were shellshocked and it was hard to see any way back into it for them in front of a very quiet home crowd.

HT 0-3

The first incident of note after the break was an injury to Hampton defender Turner, who needed treatment from the physio.

If ever the Rocks needed an early second-half goal it was now and they nearly got it when Dodd bustled past two defenders to get a shot in which Chiweshe parried over the bar. From the corner Pearce went close but it was deflected behind.

Stockford was appealing for a penalty after going down as he appeared to get first touch on a ball to the near post but the ref was unmoved.

Things went from bad to worse on 57 minutes when Turner’s corner appeared to go straight in, possibly helped on its way by Stoner.

The Rocks responded by introducing Ollie Pearce in place of Wollers.

Hampton officials appeared as disbelieving as the home camp about their 4-0 lead. Not surprisingly, every Beavers player wanted the ball, while it was as much as the Rocks could do to string a few passes together.

A second Rocks change, on 65 minutes, saw Dan Kempson replace Beck.

Stockford whipped in a high cross that caught out Chiweshe in the night sky but Woods couldn’t get a clean connection on the loose ball to punish him.

The Rocks were still looking a little shaky at the back – but did not look like a team who were going to stage a dramatic fightback.

Hampton nearly had a fifth when Bettamer ran clear down the right, but it was scrambled clear at the second attempt.

The visitors brought on George Wells for MattReece with 15 minutes left.

Bettamer was in again a minute later but over-ran the ball and Stoner gathered.

The Rocks’ last change brought Doug Tuck on for Woods.

Hampton introduced Jacob Peace in place of Bettamer.

The Rocks were running out of time but Ollie Pearce, who’d at least injected a little more energy into the hosts’ play, went close with a long-range effort five minutes from time.

But hopes of a goal looked distant and the home fans were probably as relieved as the small away following were happy to hear the final whistle.

But it didn’t come before Clayton Murray had rubbed salt into the wounds by curling a lovely 20-yard shot over Stoner in the second and final minute of injury time.

It leaves the Rocks with only one win in ten league games and desperately needing to get out of their rut with a more positive result at Harrow on Saturday.

Rocks: Stoner, Marzetti, Wollers, Crane, S Pearce, Warren, Beck, Wills, Woods, Dodd, Stockford. Subs: Kempson, Tuck, Pearce, Whyte, Boyle.

Hampton & Richmond: Chiweshe, Turner, Taggart, Jeffreys, Bray, Murray, Bettamer, Holloway, Moss, Simmonds, Reece. Subs: Wells, Peace, Moone, Hustwick, Harkin.

Ref: C Hatzdakis.